Knowing what youre doing and preparation can bring a roadside wheel change down to 10 minutes

Knowing what you're doing and preparation can bring a roadside wheel change down to 10 minutes

Colleague has a press car this week and just got his first puncture in 20-odd years. So he went looking for a spare wheel and found today's substitute: a can of gunk and a pump. He did the wise thing: hollered 'help' to the automaker and a nice man from ATS was said to be on the way, fresh new tyre in the back of the van. Except they don't prioritise cars and the earliest he can come is Monday!

Did the whey-faced suits who decided on this particular cost cut ever think it through? Ever been stuck, in the rain, on the side of a motorway waiting for an emergency response vehicle to arrive? In my day, I could change a full-size wheel in 10 minutes, leaving niceties such as putting the deflated wheel and tools away properly till the car was back in a safe haven. Yes, you're at risk on the side of the road doing this, unless a nice traffic cop stops his car with flashing lights some yards back while you sort the problem, but you're there a lot less time than if mucking about with pump and solvent. First, you have to find and read the instructions...

Compare the tasks - jack, take up a bit of car weight, lever off cover, loosen nuts, jack, nuts and wheel off, new wheel on, nuts, down, check tighten, chuck everything in boot and vamoosh.

Toddle around on the spare till local tyre shop sorts repair/replace. The wise will have checked the hand tools can actually loosen the nuts if the car has been anywhere near a garage or tyre shop - with their air tools - recently. And that the spare is serviceable. Teaching kids how to do a roadside change came as soon as they got their licence, back in my day.

Importantly, the spare works regardless of whether the tyre just has a nail in it or has been shredded into strips - the pumps 'n' gunk can only deal with the nail bit.

And have you ever read the instructions? If memory serves it's something like spray in gunk, inflate wheel, drive a bit and stop and check. Drive a bit more and stop and check. If it all doesn't work, enjoy your long wait over the barrier alongside the M6.

Doubtless this will all be justified by claims of more boot space, reduced weight, better economy, fewer CO2s, happier polar bears.

Pah! How many CO2s does the tyre repair or breakdown vans' trips to such emergencies generate? What about the CO2s emitted making pumps 'n' gunk? What about the time wasted if the gunk 'n' pump don't work?

Anyone who tries to sell me a car without a spare won't complete the sale. I'll, grudgingly, accept a space-saver...